Category Archives: POLITICS

Huge ransom payment funding Iranian military

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On Thursday, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and 17 of his colleagues sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford regarding their recent testimony in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

The senators raise serious concerns regarding the Obama Administration’s failure to notify top United States military officials about its $1.7 billion cash ransom payment to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is designated by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Following reports that Iran has funneled this money into its military budget, the senators also note that the payment may further embolden Iran, resulting in our troops and allies confronting more lethal and better-equipped adversaries.

Here is the three-page letter:

Ransom Payment Letter

Efforts to remove NC GOP Chairman Harnett intensify

Grassroots vs. Establishment to lock horns Saturday

By Hal James and Raynor James | Members NC GOP Executive Committee
Hasan Harnett

Hasan Harnett

POLITICAL LANDSCAPE — Rumors and reports about infighting among members the North Carolina Republican Party continue to swirl. This is with good cause because that is exactly what is happening!

Would you like to hear what is going on from the perspective of a husband and wife team who are both members of the NC GOP Executive Committee?

Then you’ve come to the right place. First, let us tell you why we’re willing to publicly share “insider information.” We believe sunshine is a great disinfectant. We believe too often people shrug and say, “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans,” when they’re explaining why they’ve abandoned the citizenship duty of voting.

We believe knowing the truth will change those attitudes for the better. Anyone who has read the platforms knows that the parties are vastly different in that regard. People who know that significant numbers of grassroots, Constitutional-minded Republicans are working hard and long to try to clean up back-room, business-as-usual politics run by the so-called “establishment” crowd (and we’ll use that word because we can’t think of a better one) tend to be hopeful rather that disgusted. Hopeful and willing to be part of the solution are the attitudes we’re seeking.

As background, Hasan Harnett was elected as NC GOP Chairman at the 2015 state convention. The establishment candidate was Craig Collins — endorsed by the governor, the lieutenant governor, two U.S senators, a congressman, and various members of the NC General Assembly.

One would have thought no one else stood a chance!

However, along came Hasan Harnett with his own band, and an upbeat “we can win with grassroots, boots on the ground involvement, and I can help make that happen” type message. Wow! The delegates loved him, and to the shock and dismay of the establishment, Hasan Harnett was elected.

Think what that meant! The Republican Party is historically criticized for being “old” and “white.” North Carolina Republicans had just elected a young, charming, energetic, imaginative, handsome black man as its Chairman! You would have thought everyone would be celebrating having hit a home run! As subsequent events showed, that didn’t happen.

What did happen was that Hasan Harnett and the newly elected NC GOP Vice Chairman, Michele Nix, began a mission to visit all 100 counties in NC. They wanted an inclusive party built from the ground up and immediately got busy working on just that. Mr. Harnett also made phone calls seeking to raise money for the party. We have been on the receiving end of such calls, so we’re certain of it.

Very soon, through conversations with Chairman Harnett, Vice Chairman Nix, and various NC GOP Central Committee members, we became aware that Chairman Harnett was under attack for not raising as much money as the Central Committee desired him to raise.

At the same time (and this is only hearsay, but we’ve heard it from a number of sources), the Central Committee took steps that made it very difficult for Chairman Harnett to do his job. As Chairman Harnett worked to overcome these difficulties, more and more charges were leveled at him by the Central Committee.

Finally, at a meeting called illegally (unless the postmark of the envelope calling the meeting was tampered with, it clearly did not adhere to the requirement for notice to be given 10 days in advance), the Central Committee started proceedings to remove Hasan Harnett as Chairman of the NC GOP.

Next, the Central Committee sent out a letter to the members of the NC GOP Executive Committee calling a meeting on April 30 (just six days prior to the upcoming 2016 State GOP Convention in Greensboro) for the purpose of voting on a petition to remove Hasan Harnett and replace him.

The letter says they have the proper number of signatures of members of the Executive Committee to call this meeting. However, we have not seen the signatures.

It would probably be helpful to give a brief summary of the relationships among the NC GOP Chairman, Central Committee, Executive Committee, and annual Conventions here. Conventions are held once a year, and the NC Chairman and Vice Chairman are elected by Convention Delegates every other year. These are the largest Republican Party gatherings. Provision is made to have delegates from all counties in North Carolina participate in Party affairs at the annual Convention.

The NC GOP Central Committee consists of the Chairman of the GOP Executive Committee in each of the 13 U.S. Congressional Districts in NC; the various state officers including the NC GOP Chairman and Vice Chairman; the Chairmen of several statewide Republican organizations (such as the Republican Women’s Federation); the immediate past state NC GOP Chairman; and a few key Republicans who are members of the NC General Assembly.

The Central Committee is required to meet at least every other month and is tasked with appointing committees it deems necessary, formulating fiscal policy, establishing financial goals, and doing “all things pertaining to Party affairs which it may be authorized to do by the State Executive Committee.” (The italicized words in quotation marks are a direct quote from the Plan of Organization. The entire Plan can be read by going to ncgop.org.) The officers of the state Executive Committee automatically hold the same offices on the Central Committee.

In a paragraph by itself in the Plan of Organization, “The Central Committee is charged with, in addition to all other duties, the mission of creating an effective Republican organization in every political Precinct in North Carolina.” We mention that point in particular because Chairman Harnett and Vice Chairman Nix were making a Herculean effort to visit every county in the state when the firestorm from the Central Committee erupted.

The NC GOP Executive Committee consists of all the members of the Central Committee, the NC Assistant Secretary-Treasurer-Etc., the Vice Chairs of various statewide Republican Organizations, Congressional District Vice Chairmen and Finance Chairmen, all county Chairmen and Vice Chairmen, NC Republicans in the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, a sitting Republican Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Council of State members, Republican members of the NC General Assembly and Members-at-Large elected at U.S. Congressional Districts’ annual Conventions in NC.

The Executive Committee — chaired by the NC GOP Chairman — is tasked with electing the NC GOP Secretary, Treasurer, General Council, and their Assistants. It is also required to “formulate and provide for the execution of such plans and measures as it may deem conducive to the best interests of the Republican Party,” to “adopt a budget,” and “have supreme management of all affairs of the Party within the state. It may delegate such duties as it deems proper to the State Central Committee.”

As you can see, while both bodies are designed to carry on the affairs of the Party between Conventions, the larger group of the two, the Executive Committee, is tasked with choosing to delegate duties to the Central Committee, or not delegating them.

With this as background, as you might imagine, the letter the Central Committee sent to the Executive Committee saying they had acquired enough signatures of Executive Committee members to call a meeting of the Executive Committee and to consider removing Chairman Harnett at that meeting set off a firestorm of Executive Committee members emailing and calling each other.

For one thing, it was notable that a list of the names of the members of the Executive Committee who had supposedly signed petitions to call the meeting and remove Chairman Harnett was NOT provided. There is absolutely no way to ascertain whether their claim is correct. The signatures may or may not have been obtained.

To be accurate, there are significant numbers of people on both sides of the question. However, most of the correspondence that has come our way is from people who firmly believe (as do we) that this effort to remove Hasan Harnett is improper, wrong, and is being done for the wrong reasons and by the wrong entity. We believe that the charges against him are trumped up and cannot be proved. In fact, Hasan’s explanations are logical, and the things he has shared with members of the Executive Committee such as screen views of text messages tend to show he is telling the truth.

On April 19 — in the middle of all this brouhaha — Chairman Harnett sent a cheerful email to each member of the Executive Committee saying he and the Central Committee were very near to reaching an agreement. The ninth edition of the proposed agreement was attached to the email. We were pleased that the agreement seemed so fair and even-handed. We believed that a resolution was at hand.

Later the same day, an email was sent to members of the Executive Committee from the Central Committee denying that they were nearing an agreement with Chairman Harnett. Toward the end of the email there was a sentence that said, “We fully expect there to be a vote for the removal of Chairman Harnett on April 30th.” We were not shocked. We were disappointed. However, while they claim otherwise, the Central Committee has behaved as if it is implacably opposed to Chairman Harnett from the beginning. What a shame!

It appears that the Central Committee would rather see the Party crumble around their ears and see good conservative Republican candidates fail to get elected than to give up an ounce of their fabricated grievances. Well, many members of the Executive Committee believe this to be wrong on so many levels, and we are working to prevent it.

How and why is it wrong? Where do we start?

First, no charge that has been made has been proven.

The meeting has been called at a time Chairman Harnett indicated back in January via his published calendar that he will be out of the country on business. The NC GOP Plan of Organization has a requirement that anyone being considered for removal have an opportunity to defend himself. This meeting appears to have been timed to prevent that.

Most of the charges (even if true) do not meet the requirements that charges must meet in order to remove someone.

The body that elected Chairman Harnett — the NC GOP Convention — is the most numerous body in the state party. The Executive Committee and the Central Committee exist to handle the affairs of the party between Conventions. Why rush to undo the work of the 2015 Convention just 6 days before the 2016 Convention meets?

Can it be that the Central Committee thinks the 2016 Convention will refuse to remove Chairman Harnett?

At this writing, we have no idea how this will turn out. There is a persistent rumor that the reason the establishment wants to remove Chairman Harnett, is that they want to replace him with Art Pope. It is said that they want Mr. Pope to have the Chairman’s vote at the Republican National Convention. They expect to leave the nitty-gritty, day to day work of the party to the Executive Director (who was hired over Chairman Harnett’s objections). If the rumor is true, money and power are behind what’s going on, and this situation is taking on more and more of a David and Goliath appearance.

Far more than the future of the Republican Party is at stake here. At the present time, the Republican Party is the tool of choice for most Constitutional conservatives who are sincere about wanting to restore a representative republic with a federal government whose powers are limited. If those people decide in large numbers that the Republican Party is not the best tool for this work and start a third major political party, it will result (at least at first) in the broad scale election of Democrats. If that happens, can our country survive financially and militarily long enough to find a conservative solution?

Will grassroots, Constitutionally conservative Republicans win? Will the wily business-as-usual, establishment types win? To be continued…

Democratic nominee for Governor wants UNC-CH to boycott Final Four

WEB-POST-GOP-logoHOUSTON, TX — Dallas Woodhouse, NCGOP Executive Director, issued the following statement Monday in response to Roy Cooper’s demand that the UNC men’s basketball team boycott the NCAA Final Four because “61 percent of Houston’s residents are ignorant bigots” for voting to overturn a city council ordinance like Charlotte’s that allowed men into women’s bathrooms:

“We still can’t figure out why Roy Cooper so desperately wants men to use women’s locker rooms and bathrooms but calling for UNC’s basketball team to boycott the NCAA Final Four in Houston because the city’s resident’s voted against the Cooper shared locker room plan is going too far.”

Trump campaigns in Carolinas

Trump wowed a Chamber of Commerce crowd last week in Greenville, S.C.

Trump wowed a Chamber of Commerce crowd last week in Greenville, S.C.

By Mike Causey

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Donald Trump is bringing an excitement and enthusiasm to the 2016 Presidential race like no other conservative candidate has done since Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump gets it. He connects with the people.

Last week, in Greenville, S.C., Trump mesmerized an overflow crowd of approximately 1800 people at the Upstate Chamber of Commerce Coalition Luncheon. He received thunderous applause and several standing ovations.

As is his custom, Trump did not mince words during his public remarks.

As is his custom, Trump did not mince words during his public remarks.

Before Trump came on stage, the event opened in prayer. As soon as Trump emerged from a side door and walked toward the stage, the excited crowd erupted into applause and cheers. The chamber’s Master of Ceremonies said: To introduce a man who needs no introduction. A man that can fill this hall and probably a dozen more, Donald Trump!

Trump walks confidently to the lectern with more thunderous applause and resounding enthusiastic cheers. He appears very relaxed, comfortable and in-control. Trump expresses his happiness with the size of the crowd.

“Wow, this is great. I understand we have a record crowd—what–about 1800 today!? Let’s see- what did the other guys have? Jeb Bush 300 and something; And Lindsey Graham about 120; But that’s okay.”

Trump engages the audience in a conversational style, like he’s telling a story to the good ol’ boys at the country store. This crowd loves it.

He told the story of the Univision reporter, Jorge Ramos, who so rudely interrupted Trump’s Iowa press conference by trying to ask questions ahead of others. Trump had him removed by security, but allowed him to return later.

NEWS1 Trump pic 3“By the way, I’m suing his network for 500 million,” Trump said. “The Hispanics that are in this country legally—they love me—they don’t want people pouring over the border.”

During his speech, Donald Trump received multiple standing ovations. The first standing ovation came right after Trump said, “All I want is what’s good for the country.” The next one came after he remarked, “We are going to, indeed, make America great again–maybe better than before.” This audience is hanging on every word when Trump says, “The American dream is dead. But I am going to make it bigger and better and stronger than it was before.”

When Trump says, “All I care about is this country,” the audience erupts into applause and again, he gets a standing ovation. “We have a message: We’re not going to take it anymore! People are tired of what’s happening.”

Trump spent time pointing out his business accomplishments as a sign for a successful Trump Presidency. On our trade deficit with China, Trump said, “They’re killing us. We have re-built China. China has massive, powerful banks. They make CitiBank look like nothing…. It’s the Greatest Theft in the history of the world.”

“Japan-Mexico-China- I love them- their people. I just wish our leaders were smarter.”

On more than one occasion, Trump sported his trademark scowl.

On more than one occasion, Trump sported his trademark scowl.

Commenting on the lobbyists in Washington, “Nine times out of ten – I could probably say ten times out of ten — the lobbyists are going to get what they want.”

When asked what is so appealing about Donald Trump for president, Pat Mann, of Greenwood, S.C. said, “Trump says he believes in God and the Bible is his favorite book. This is important. We’re not electing someone to be our pastor, but South Carolina is in the Bible Belt. We want our country back! We want our borders closed. We want ISIS out of this country.”

Greg Askew, of Greenville, said, “Because he speaks for the people! He speaks from his heart and from the top of his head.” Askew admitted that sometimes gets Trump in trouble because he says what he thinks, which is often not politically correct.

Trump also said issues he’s committed to include immigration reform, veteran services and women’s health.

In voter polls, Trump says he is voted the best on leadership and the best on economics, but ranks last in niceness. He adds that we don’t need niceness — we need tough and smart leadership.

He says we’re in the shape we’re in “Because we’re stupid – That stuff isn’t going to happen anymore when I’m president.”

Trump has certainly received his share of criticism, but he’s a fighter and punches back—hard! However, the more he’s criticized, the higher his poll numbers rise. Trump’s proud of his strong polling numbers, which reached 30 percent in South Carolina. He said the “silent majority” is giving him a boost.

“They want to see wins. They want to see us have victory. We’re not having victory any more in this country,” said Trump.

Donald Trump says he likes Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. About Dr. Carson, Trump says, “He’s a nice guy.” On Ted Cruz, Trump remarks, “Ted Cruz is so nice, I can’t hit him – I may have to if he gets really close.”

At the press conference

Trump spoke to media following his South Carolina speech, saying better trade negotiators are key to boosting jobs here at home.

“We’ll take them back from China. We’ll take them back from Japan. We’ll take them back from Mexico. We’re going to take jobs back and we are going to have jobs in this country,” he said.

He also talked about the shooting deaths of two Virginia journalists who were gunned down by a disgruntled former employee.

“So sad. So, something has to happen. It’s not about the guns. It’s about mental instability. You have people with great mental instability,” Trump said.

According to Trump campaign adviser Chuck Laudner, who leads the effort in Iowa, Trump is achieving what Republican Party leaders have wanted for decades, but never succeeded. He’s broadening the base of the Republican Party, “Reaching out to minorities, women, millennials and all the cross-over votes.”

That’s because “He speaks from the heart, not the teleprompter,” Laudner said. “It’s going beyond what any of the experts thought would happen, but he is tapping into something that runs a lot deeper than Republican, Democratic or Independent.”

Laudner continued, “People have had enough. You are going to get rid of government as usual; you’ve got to get rid of politics as usual. Donald Trump is doing that. He is tapping into that outsider status that so many politicians try to grab onto, but they can’t. They are politicians.”

Trump sets new polling record

Donald Trump is the frontrunner, with a commanding lead, in every recent GOP poll. The latest 2016 online Breitbart Primary poll (Aug. 30th) has Trump at 38 percent, followed by Ted Cruz at 26 percent and Carson, Fiorina and Paul with 9, 5 and 5 percent, respectively.

In the latest Gravis Marketing poll, Trump has gained 10 points since July 31 hitting a record 40.1 percent. This is the first time a Republican candidate has reached above the 30 percent mark. In the same, the closest contenders 13 percent, Jeb Bush at 10 percent, Ted Cruz at 7 and Carly Fiorina at 5.2 percent.

One interesting fact: Three of the top five presidential candidates– Trump, Carson and Fiorina — have never held public office.

Establishment frightened by Trump

Columnist and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan said, “the political establishment is appalled by Trump and frightened by Trump, and they want to basically drive him out of the race.”

Buchanan says, “They keep pounding him and pounding him and pounding him,” to drive Trump out of the race. “It’s because of what he’s saying about the border, what he’s saying about trade, what he’s saying about the political establishment.”

Yet, “the more he’s criticized the more he rises in the polls,” Buchanan concluded.

John McLaughlin of the McLaughlinGroup, says that Donald Trump is a man of great accomplishment. He thinks Trump will win.

Right Wing News’ Katie McGuire writes: The Donald just keeps on winning. He isn’t gonna be stopped anytime soon, and with numbers like these, we may just have the next President of the United States living at Trump Tower and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He is doing not only better than expected, but also better than anyone, since no candidate has hit above the 40 percent mark, ever! And that, folks, is how you win elections.

Obviously expecting a backlash, McGuire announces:

Send your hate mail to the author at katiefmcguire@gmail.com, or feel free to mean tweet me at @GOPKatie, where I will be sure to do very little about it.

So, love him or hate him, Donald Trump is changing the face of politics in the 2016 presidential race. If he keeps moving forward with his present momentum, we’ll be saying President Trump in 2017. And the people said: “President Trump, making America great again.”

Follow Mike Causey on Twitter @CauseyMike or email him: GoCausey@aol.com Snail mail: PO Box 12502, Raleigh, NC 27605

‘Words no longer have meaning’

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Editor’s note: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia makes such a compelling case that this newspaper has opted to print his 7,000-word dissent in its entirety. We are doing so in two parts, with the second installment to appear in our July 9 issue. Phrases that appear in bold italics are the editor’s attempt to make the jurist’s dissent more easily understood by casual readers.

Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act makes major reforms to the American health-insurance market. It provides, among other things, that every State “shall . . .establish an American Health Benefit Exchange”—a marketplace where people can shop for health-insurance plans. 42 U. S. C. §18031(b)(1). And it provides that if a State does not comply with this instruction, the Secretary of Health and Human Services must “establish and oper­ate such Exchange within the State.” §18041(c)(1). A separate part of the Act—housed in §36B of the Inter­nal Revenue Code—grants “premium tax credits” to subsi­dize certain purchases of health insurance made on Ex­changes. The tax credit consists of “premium assistance amounts” for “coverage months.” 26 U. S. C. §36B(b)(1). An individual has a coverage month only when he is covered by an insurance plan “that was enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under [§18031].” §36B(c)(2)(A). And the law ties the size of the premium assistance amount to the premiums for health plans which cover the individual “and which were enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under [§18031].” §36B(b)(2)(A). The premium assistance amount further depends on the cost of certain other insurance plans “of­fered through the same Exchange.” §36B(b)(3)(B)(i).

This case requires us to decide whether someone who buys insurance on an Exchange established by the Secre­tary gets tax credits. You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it. In order to receive any money under §36B, an individual must enroll in an insurance plan through an “Exchange established by the State.” The Secretary of Health and Human Services is not a State. So an Exchange established by the Secre­tary is not an Exchange established by the State—which means people who buy health insurance through such an Exchange get no money under §36B.

 

Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.” It is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits to state Exchanges than to use the words “established by the State.” And it is hard to come up with a reason to include the words “by the State” other than the purpose of limiting credits to state Exchanges. “[T]he plain, obvious, and rational meaning of a statute is always to be preferred to any curious, narrow, hidden sense that nothing but the exigency of a hard case and the ingenuity and study of an acute and powerful intellect would discover.” Lynch v. Alworth-Stephens Co., 267 U. S. 364, 370 (1925) (internal quotation marks omitted). Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.

The Court interprets §36B to award tax credits on both federal and state Exchanges. It accepts that the “most natural sense” of the phrase “Exchange established by the State” is an Exchange established by a State. Ante, at 11. (Understatement, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!) Yet the opinion continues, with no sem­blance of shame, that “it is also possible that the phrase refers to all Exchanges—both State and Federal.” Ante, at 13. (Impossible possibility, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!) The Court claims that “the context and structure of the Act compel [it] to depart from wha twould otherwise be the most natural reading of the perti­nent statutory phrase.” Ante, at 21.

I wholeheartedly agree with the Court that sound inter­pretation requires paying attention to the whole law, not homing in on isolated words or even isolated sections. Context always matters. Let us not forget, however, why context matters: It is a tool for understanding the terms of the law, not an excuse for rewriting them.

Any effort to understand rather than to rewrite a law must accept and apply the presumption that lawmakers use words in “their natural and ordinary signification.” Pensacola Telegraph Co. v. Western Union Telegraph Co., 96 U. S. 1, 12 (1878). Ordinary connotation does not always prevail, but the more unnatural the proposed interpretation of a law, the more compelling the contextual evidence must be to show that it is correct. Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that “Exchange established by the State” means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government”? Little short of an express statu­tory definition could justify adopting this singular reading.

Yet the only pertinent definition here provides that “State” means “each of the 50 States and the District of Colum­bia.” 42 U. S. C. §18024(d). Because the Secretary is neither one of the 50 States nor the District of Columbia, that definition positively contradicts the eccentric theory that an Exchange established by the Secretary has been established by the State.

Far from offering the overwhelming evidence of meaning needed to justify the Court’s interpretation, other contex­tual clues undermine it at every turn. To begin with, other parts of the Act sharply distinguish between the establishment of an Exchange by a State and the estab­lishment of an Exchange by the Federal Government. The States’ authority to set up Exchanges comes from one provision, §18031(b); the Secretary’s authority comes from an entirely different provision, §18041(c). Funding for States to establish Exchanges comes from one part of the law, §18031(a); funding for the Secretary to establish Exchanges comes from an entirely different part of the law, §18121. States generally run state-created Ex­changes; the Secretary generally runs federally created Exchanges. §18041(b)–(c). And the Secretary’s authority to set up an Exchange in a State depends upon the State’s“[f]ailure to establish [an] Exchange.” §18041(c) (empha­sis added). Provisions such as these destroy any pretense that a federal Exchange is in some sense also established by a State.

Reading the rest of the Act also confirms that, as rele­vant here, there are only two ways to set up an Exchange in a State: establishment by a State and establishment by the Secretary. §§18031(b), 18041(c). So saying that an Exchange established by the Federal Government is “es­tablished by the State” goes beyond giving words bizarre meanings; it leaves the limiting phrase “by the State” with no operative effect at all. That is a stark violation of the elementary principle that requires an interpreter “to give effect, if possible, to every clause and word of a statute.” Montclair v. Ramsdell, 107 U. S. 147, 152 (1883). In weighing this argument, it is well to remember the differ­ence between giving a term a meaning that duplicates another part of the law, and giving a term no meaning at all. Lawmakers sometimes repeat themselves—whether out of a desire to add emphasis, a sense of belt-and-­suspenders caution, or a lawyerly penchant for doublets (aid and abet, cease and desist, null and void). Lawmak­ers do not, however, tend to use terms that “have no oper­ation at all.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 174 (1803). So while the rule against treating a term as a redundancy is far from categorical, the rule against treat­ing it as a nullity is as close to absolute as interpretive principles get. The Court’s reading does not merely give “by the State” a duplicative effect; it causes the phrase to have no effect whatever.

Making matters worse, the reader of the whole Act will come across a number of provisions beyond §36B that refer to the establishment of Exchanges by States. Adopting the Court’s interpretation means nullifying the term “by the State” not just once, but again and again throughout the Act. Consider for the moment only those parts of the Act that mention an “Exchange established by the State” in connection with tax credits:

  • The formula for calculating the amount of the tax credit, as already explained, twice mentions “an Ex­change established by the State.” 26 U. S. C. §36B(b)(2)(A), (c)(2)(A)(i).
  • The Act directs States to screen children for eligibility for “[tax credits] under section 36B” and for “any other assistance or subsidies available for coverage ob­tained through” an “Exchange established by the State.” 42 U. S. C. §1396w–3(b)(1)(B)–(C).
  • The Act requires “an Exchange established by the State” to use a “secure electronic interface” to deter­mine eligibility for (among other things) tax credits. §1396w–3(b)(1)(D).
  • The Act authorizes “an Exchange established by the State” to make arrangements under which other state agencies “determine whether a State resident is eligi­ble for [tax credits] under section 36B.” §1396w–3(b)(2).
  • The Act directs States to operate Web sites that allow anyone “who is eligible to receive [tax credits] under section 36B” to compare insurance plans offered through “an Exchange established by the State.” §1396w–3(b)(4).
  • One of the Act’s provisions addresses the enrollment of certain children in health plans “offered through an Exchange established by the State” and then discusses the eligibility of these children for tax credits. §1397ee(d)(3)(B).

It is bad enough for a court to cross out “by the State” once. But seven times?

Congress did not, by the way, repeat “Exchange estab­lished by the State under [§18031]” by rote throughout the Act. Quite the contrary, clause after clause of the law uses a more general term such as “Exchange” or “Exchange established under [§18031].” See, e.g., 42 U. S. C. §§18031(k), 18033; 26 U. S. C. §6055. It is common sense that any speaker who says “Exchange” some of the time, but “Exchange established by the State” the rest of the time, probably means something by the contrast.

Equating establishment “by the State” with establish­ment by the Federal Government makes nonsense of other parts of the Act. The Act requires States to ensure (on pain of losing Medicaid funding) that any “Exchange established by the State” uses a “secure electronic inter­face” to determine an individual’s eligibility for various benefits (including tax credits). 42 U. S. C. §1396w– 3(b)(1)(D). How could a State control the type of electronic interface used by a federal Exchange? The Act allows a State to control contracting decisions made by “an Ex­change established by the State.” §18031(f)(3). Why would a State get to control the contracting decisions of a federal Exchange? The Act also provides “Assistance to States to establish American Health Benefit Exchanges” and directs the Secretary to renew this funding “if the State . . . is making progress . . . toward . . . establishing an Exchange.” §18031(a). Does a State that refuses to set up an Exchange still receive this funding, on the premise that Exchanges established by the Federal Government are really established by States? It is presumably in order to avoid these questions that the Court concludes that federal Exchanges count as state Exchanges only “for purposes of the tax credits.” Ante, at 13. (Contrivance, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!)

It is probably piling on to add that the Congress that wrote the Affordable Care Act knew how to equate two different types of Exchanges when it wanted to do so. The Act includes a clause providing that “[a] territory that . . . establishes . . . an Exchange . . . shall be treated as a State” for certain purposes. §18043(a) (emphasis added). Tellingly, it does not include a comparable clause provid­ing that the Secretary shall be treated as a State for pur­poses of §36B when she establishes an Exchange.

Faced with overwhelming confirmation that “Exchange established by the State” means what it looks like it means, the Court comes up with argument after feeble argument to support its contrary interpretation. None of its tries comes close to establishing the implausible con­clusion that Congress used “by the State” to mean “by the State or not by the State.” The Court emphasizes that if a State does not set up an Exchange, the Secretary must establish “such Exchange.” §18041(c). It claims that the word “such” implies that federal and state Exchanges are “the same.” Ante, at 13. To see the error in this reasoning, one need only consider a parallel provision from our Constitution: “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations.” Art. I, §4, cl. 1 (emphasis added). Just as the Affordable Care Act directs States to establish Exchanges while allowing the Secre­tary to establish “such Exchange” as a fallback, the Elec­tions Clause directs state legislatures to prescribe election regulations while allowing Congress to make “such Regu­lations” as a fallback. Would anybody refer to an election regulation made by Congress as a “regulation prescribed by the state legislature”? Would anybody say that a fed­eral election law and a state election law are in all re­spects equivalent? Of course not. The word “such” does not help the Court one whit. The Court’s argument also overlooks the rudimentary principle that a specific provi­sion governs a general one. Even if it were true that the term “such Exchange” in §18041(c) implies that federal and state Exchanges are the same in general, the term“established by the State” in §36B makes plain that they differ when it comes to tax credits in particular.

The Court’s next bit of interpretive jiggery-pokery in­volves other parts of the Act that purportedly presuppose the availability of tax credits on both federal and state Exchanges. Ante, at 13–14. It is curious that the Court is willing to subordinate the express words of the section that grants tax credits to the mere implications of other provisions with only tangential connections to tax credits. One would think that interpretation would work the other way around. In any event, each of the provisions men­tioned by the Court is perfectly consistent with limiting tax credits to state Exchanges. One of them says that the minimum functions of an Exchange include (alongside several tasks that have nothing to do with tax credits) setting up an electronic calculator that shows “the actual cost of coverage after the application of any premium tax credit.” 42 U. S. C. §18031(d)(4)(G). What stops a federal Exchange’s electronic calculator from telling a customer that his tax credit is zero? Another provision requires an Exchange’s outreach program to educate the public about health plans, to facilitate enrollment, and to “distribute fair and impartial information” about enrollment and “the availability of premium tax credits.” §18031(i)(3)(B).What stops a federal Exchange’s outreach program from fairly and impartially telling customers that no tax credits are available? A third provision requires an Exchange to report information about each insurance plan sold—including level of coverage, premium, name of the insured, and “amount of any advance payment” of the tax credit.26 U. S. C. §36B(f)(3). What stops a federal Exchange’s report from confirming that no tax credits have been paid out?

The Court persists that these provisions “would make little sense” if no tax credits were available on federal Exchanges. Ante, at 14. Even if that observation were true, it would show only oddity, not ambiguity. Laws often include unusual or mismatched provisions. The Affordable Care Act spans 900 pages; it would be amazing if its provisions all lined up perfectly with each other. This Court “does not revise legislation . . . just because the text as written creates an apparent anomaly.” Michigan

v. Bay Mills Indian Community, 572 U. S. ___, ___ (2014) (slip op., at 10). At any rate, the provisions cited by the Court are not particularly unusual. Each requires an Exchange to perform a standardized series of tasks, some aspects of which relate in some way to tax credits. It is entirely natural for slight mismatches to occur when, as here, lawmakers draft “a single statutory provision” to cover “different kinds” of situations. Robers v. United States, 572 U. S. ___, ___ (2014) (slip op., at 4). Lawmak­ers need not, and often do not, “write extra language specifically exempting, phrase by phrase, applications in respect to which a portion of a phrase is not needed.” Ibid.

Part II of Scalia’s dissent will appear here next week in the July 9 issue of the County Compass.

Isaac Taylor House offers ideal backdrop for Governor’s visit

NEWS1-McCrory-pic-1
By Lisa E. Bernett
Staff Writer
Vicki Vitale, center, co-owner of Fine Arts at Baxters in downtown New Bern, enjoys a photo opportunity with Susan Kluttz, Secretary of Cultural Resources for the state, and Gov. Pat McCrory.

Vicki Vitale, center, co-owner of Fine Arts at Baxters in downtown New Bern, enjoys a photo opportunity with Susan Kluttz, Secretary of Cultural Resources for the state, and Gov. Pat McCrory.

NEW BERN – North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, on a quest to preserve the state’s Historic Tax Credit Program, chose a preserved landmark last week – the Isaac Taylor House in downtown New Bern – as the perfect setting for his message that incentives of this sort make good economic sense.

Although the program lapsed at the end of 2014, McCrory operatives are feverishly working both houses of the General Assembly to revive the law – a version of which has passed the State House, but is now languishing in the State Senate. Before its expiration, the tax credit program had been used to refurbish historic structures in 90 of the state’s 100 counties.

New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw introduced Susan Kluttz, Secretary Of Cultural Resources, who said historic tax credits are imperative “because they tell the North Carolina story.” She added “the state is responsible for preservation because it is a state story.”

With Pepsi in hand, McCrory tours downtown New Bern with John Wood of the State Historic Preservation Office.

With Pepsi in hand, McCrory tours downtown New Bern with John Wood of the State Historic Preservation Office.

Both McCrory and Kluttz credited former President Ronald Reagan, a free-market icon, for having the foresight to bring tax credits to the attention of developers and entrepreneurs.

“Historic tax credits make the private sector step up and preserve the past for the future,” said McCrory.

After the governor spoke, he met the current owners of the Isaac Taylor House, Mike and Lisa Lentz, for a quick tour of ground floor. The building, constructed in 1792, was originally owned by Isaac Taylor, a successful New Bern merchant.

Accompanied by John Wood of the State Historic Preservation Office, McCrory then embarked on a brisk walking tour of the downtown area. One stop offered a proprietor of Baxter’s Art Gallery a surprise photo op with the governor.

And, of course, the congenial governor’s visit to New Bern – the birthplace of Pepsi Cola – also included photos of him with the famous, and historic, beverage in hand!

A defense of profiling!

ISIS threat continuation of trend

Special to the County Compass
A screener with the Transportation Security Agency checks the ID of a passenger at LaGuardia International Airport in New York City.

A screener with the Transportation Security Agency checks the ID of a passenger at LaGuardia International Airport in New York City.

In 1968, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by a Muslim male.
2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by Muslim males.
3. In 1972 a Pan Am 747 was hijacked and eventually diverted to Cairo where a fuse was lit on final approach, to be blown up shortly after landing by Muslim males
4. In 1973 a Pan Am 707 was destroyed in Rome, with 33 people killed, when it was attacked with grenades by Muslim males.
5. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by Muslim males.
6. During the 1980s a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by Muslim males.
7. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by Muslim males.
8. In 1985, the Cruise Ship Achilles Lauro was hijacked and a 70-year-old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by Muslim males.
9. In 1985, TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by Muslim males.
10. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by Muslim males.
11. In 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by Muslim males.
12. In 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by Muslim males.
13. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take down the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed by Muslim males.
14. In 2002, the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against Muslim males.
15. In 2002, reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded by—you guessed it was a— Muslim male.
16. In 2013, Boston Marathon bombing four innocent people including a child killed, 264 injured by Muslim males.
17. In 2014, two journalists and one humanitarian aid worker have been beheaded by Muslim males

Is there a pattern here that just might justify profiling?

Recently, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone — particularly fanatics intent on killing us — airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people. So, ask yourself one question: Just how stupid are we???

Screeners now conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the President’s security detail, 85-year old, Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winner and former Governor Joe Foss, but leave Muslim males alone lest the screeners be guilty of profiling.

Have the American people completely lost their Minds, or just their Power of Reason?

Clip this article, photocopy it, and send to as many people as you can so that the Gloria Allreds and other stupid attorneys along with Federal Justices who want to thwart common sense, feel ashamed of themselves — if they have any such sense!

Do It! Or sit back, just keep complaining, and do nothing!!

Editor’s note: This news story refers to Gloria Allred, an American civil rights lawyer, noted for taking high-profile and often controversial cases.

Board blessed candidates win in Fairfield Harbour

By Penny Zibula | Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD HARBOUR – Wednesday night, a crowded firehouse of Annual Meeting attendees found out who will fill the three open seats on the Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association Board of Directors for the next three years.

Six candidates ran for the three seats: Three were heavily promoted by the current Board of Directors, while three ran on individual platforms of change and transparency.

The candidates: Ken Caviston, Dan Englehaupt, Sharon Henke, Simon Lock, Jim Scallion and Joe Schulties wooed the property owners for several weeks, but, as the community learned, the three BOD-endorsed candidates carried the day.

Henke will begin her second term. Schulties was elected after having been appointed to complete the term vacated by Wayne Smith earlier this year. Dan Englehaupt will assume the seat vacated by Paul Hill, who is rotating off the BOD, following two consecutive terms.

With Englehaupt as the only new face on the Fairfield Harbour Board of Directors, property owners are unlikely to see any significant changes in the way the community is governed.

Three open seats, six candidates, one question

By Penny Zibula | Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD HARBOUR – This year, three seats on Fairfield Harbour’s seven-member Board of Directors are being hotly contested.

Sharon Henke is seeking a second term. Joe Schulties is running for the first time, having completed Wayne Smith’s term after his seat was vacated earlier this year. Ken Caviston, Dan Englehaupt, Simon Lock, and Jim Scalion are all new contenders.

Following two consecutive terms, Paul Hill is rotating off the board of directors.

For the fourth consecutive year, The County Compass has offered each candidate the opportunity to answer one question designed to assist Fairfield Harbour property owners in casting an informed vote. Below is the question, and the unedited answers of the four candidates who responded.

Question: What do you see as being the most pressing issue affecting the future of Fairfield Harbour, and, if elected, what steps would you take to address this issue?

cavistonKen Caviston: In my opinion, the most pressing issue is the dis-connect between The Board and the Association’s members. The Board’s stated emphasis on “property values” seems to ignore the fact that without people, Fairfield Harbour would be a ghost town.

I realize that, if elected, I will be one-seventh of a TEAM. My promise is that I will work hard to influence the rest of the team to begin looking beneath the surface of all issues. Maybe the complaints about cost, waste and bus stop harassment, should be investigated more deeply and not dismissed as the work of dissidents. This isn’t “micro-management.”  It is making sure you know what you are paying for. At least the residents would then realize The Board is aware of the activities of its contractor.

Every resident must be treated with respect at all times, whether or not they agree with us. We cannot grow as a community until we stop fighting over the past and begin working together for the future.

englehauptDan Englehaupt: The issue that immediately comes to mind is the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over Fairfield Harbour. That cloud is the bankruptcy filing of MidSouth Golf and the uncertain disposition of MidSouth assets, including the Shoreline Clubhouse and Golf Course, tennis courts, Birdland and Shoreline marinas, the Harbour Pointe Golf Course, and parcels of unimproved MidSouth property within Fairfield Harbour.

We have all pondered possible courses of action available to MidSouth as they seek to pay Harbour residents a court-ordered amount totaling, with accrued interest, nearly $2 million. Harbour residents will recall the award was a consequence of MidSouth collecting annual amenities fees while failing to adequately maintain amenities for the use and benefit of community residents.  I would applaud a MidSouth decision to pay in full the total amount owed our community. The windfall amount could reduce our Property Owners Association (POA) dues for years to come.  A more likely possibility is the ceding of MidSouth property to the POA in lieu of cash payment. The POA would then need to determine, in the best interests of the community, how to dispose of or adapt the deeded assets.

This brings me to the most pressing issue facing the Harbour, mistrust and discord. To overcome pending and future challenges we need to trust one another and pull together. I will work to make Fairfield Harbour one, unified community by giving each POA member a greater voice in the formulation of community policies ​and by actively seeking positive individual member input when programming future community expenditures.

lockSimon Lock: To me, the most critical issue that faces this community is who controls the money and whether it is being spent wisely. At the present time we have a significant segment of the property owners who don’t trust a Board that appears to be fixated on wasting money on unnecessary projects and promotion of the management company that has done little to benefit Fairfield Harbour.

Another example of misuse of funds is the recent foreclosure actions, likely based on legal advice, that will benefit the attorneys more than the community in the foreseeable future.

If elected to the Board, my first goal will be to bring transparency into the Board room so that anyone with an interest can learn exactly what is transpiring in real time rather than only learning, with distortions, what the Board chooses to share.

At the same time, I will be encouraging the formation of an independent finance committee, that will be charged with recommending actions to lower the cost of running the POA without reducing the upkeep and maintenance of the common elements in the community. Probably our most significant unnecessary cost is the use of a management company that is absorbing close to 3 percent or more of our dues before a single salary is paid or a single service is received. Because of the lack of transparency we, in fact, don’t know the true cost but it can only be at a price that is a detriment to the long-term financial health of our community.

scalionJim Scalion: In my opinion the most pressing issue affecting the future of Fairfield Harbour is the escalation of P.O.A. dues, fees and unnecessary expenditures.  I will strive to find ways to eliminate programs not in the best interest of all Fairfield Harbour residents.  If elected, I will request an audit of the POA finances.

A management company , a public relations firm, and an outside security firm are major expenditures and I will strive to find more cost effective ways to satisfy the community’s needs in all of those areas.  I will try to promote a more transparent and open Board of Directors that  listens to all the members of the community, not just certain committees and/or groups.  This is a community and as such, we should have everyone’s best interest at heart.

Every resident on both sides of Broad Creek Rd. should be treated with respect and fairness, with the same rules applying to all residents.  I feel that establishing an open forum (e.g. a POA BOD website) for all residents to express their concerns and/or opinions regarding major issues without fear of intimidation or censure is necessary and vital. I will strive to bring back and maintain the standard of living we have all come to expect in Fairfield Harbour, and I will work with fellow board members and all the residents to accomplish that goal.

Editor’s note:  One of the candidates, Simon Lock, is the husband of County Compass reporter, Penny Zibula. 

TEA Party fighting Establishment GOP

Election official in Beaufort County gets caught in crossfire

Special to the County Compass

BEAUFORT COUNTY – The current N.C. Board of Elections says it does not want the public to perceive local boards as favoring one political candidate over another. To make this point, it recently removed a local board member, Delma Blinson, in Beaufort County. 

The State Board of Elections is determined that local election officials not participate in the political process. But, that is an impossible task, and it would be illegal if they were able to do so.

The State Board of Elections is a political body, appointed by the Governor. Board members get those appointments through the political process.

Local boards of elections are also political appointees – first nominated by their respective political party on the county level, which then forwards the nominations to the state political party, which then sends the nominations to the State Board. How much more political can it get?

The local and state elections panels are composed of a majority of members from the political party of the Governor. The minority party appoints two of five state members and one of the three local members.

N. C. General Statute 163-39 says:

No individual subject to this Article (appointed elections officials and their employees) shall:

(1) Make written or oral statements intended for general distribution or dissemination to the public at large supporting or opposing the nomination or election of one or more clearly identified candidates for public office.

Elsewhere in the law is the following provision:

Individual expressions of opinion, support, or opposition not intended for general public distribution shall not be deemed a violation of this Article.(emphasis added)

On Oct. 17, acting as an individual expressing his personal opinion, Blinson spoke up at a Beaufort Patriot TEA Party meeting in support of Greg Brannon for US Senate. Blinson says he did not speak or act on behalf of, or as a member of, the Beaufort County Board of Elections.

When the endorsement by the TEA Party of Greg Brannon was announced, his name and participation were not mentioned. But for these actions, on Dec. 20, the State Board of Elections retracted its appointment of Blinson to the Beaufort County Board of Elections. It did so after what Blinson characterized as a “kangaroo court” hearing that was obviously biased and unjust.

Blinson released the following statement:

I think the law is perfectly clear. As long as a local election official is speaking or acting as an individual then they are free to express support for a candidate. The board has twisted the plain meaning of the words of the statute to mean that if the endorsement of a group with which an official is associated becomes public then the official cannot be associated with that group. That is a clear deprivation of my First Amendment rights. And the Board is on thin ice to restrain a person’s First Amendment rights without having a compelling reason, based on evidence, to do so.

In this case there was no evidence—absolutely none—that the public even was aware of my political preferences much less that those preferences had any impact on my performance as a board member. If my preferences presented a conflict of interest, I would have recused myself from any decision. But obviously preventing conflicts of interest was not the board’s motive. It was the suppression of personal political speech before any problem had appeared. That’s illegal.”

Commentary:

The real story here is the war going on within the Republican Party. You can say there are two factions within the Republican Party: The Establishment and the Grassroots.

We’ve seen this split play out recently in Washington when Establishment Republicans teamed up with Democrats to pass a budget that the Grassroots Republicans opposed because it continues the unsustainable deficit spending. The Grassroots element wanted to cut spending. They lost out in this round. The “solution” the Grassroots believe lies in electing more conservative like Ted Curz, Mike Lee and Ron Paul to the U. S. Senate. It will take about a half dozen to swing the U. S. Senate to Republican.

North Carolina’s Senate seat is one of those targets.

So, here on the local level, we have our own Establishment vs. Grassroots battle going on for that Senate seat. The leading Republican candidate, Brannon, is a strong Grassroots kind of guy. He is being opposed by Tom Tillis, a guy supported national figure and ‘Prince of the Establishment’ Karl Rove.

Another GOP candidate for U.S. Senate is Mark Harris, being supported by Robyn Hayes, another Establishment icon in the North Carolina GOP.

So there’s a real horse race going on for the Republican nomination to go up against Kay Hagan in November. The problem is that it is not likely any Republican can defeat Hagan unless two things come together: Most Republicans support the Republican nominee and many unaffiliated voters turn out to vote to replace Hagan.

So the strategy that is evolving is quite clear. The Establishment needs to stifle the Tea Party types in May, but bring them into the fold in November. Quite a tall order.

So how does the membership of the Beaufort County Board of Elections fit into all this? Simple. The Establishment Republicans can’t afford many more endorsements of the TEA Party guy – Brannon. He just may win.

Editor’s note: Delma Blinson writes for The Beaufort Observer section of this newspaper.